Kent State ends dual season with tri-meet sweep

Dan Armelli

Kent State wrestling coach Jim Andrassy knew he had a good tournament team coming into this season. However, he wasn’t so sure about how his team would fair in dual meets.

Sunday night encapsulated the Flashes’ dual meet season after they were able to beat MAC rival No. 20 Central Michigan University  and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. 

Kent State was able to come out of Sunday unbeaten without two of their NCAA qualifiers from last year in fifth-year senior 157-pounder Ian Miller and senior 133-pounder Mack McGuire.

“We were able to win some matches when I didn’t think we were the better team just because our guys were relentless,” Andrassy said. “It’s something that you can’t coach a kid or teach a kid, to go out and want to win real bad. I’m not talking individually win. I’m talking a collective of 10 people getting together and saying, ‘We’re going to figure out how to win this match.’” 

Redshirt freshman Casey Sparkman filled in for Miller and had the task of facing Central Michigan’s No. 11 Luke Smith. 

In a dual in which points would be hard to come by, Sparkman was able to upset Smith in overtime 4-2. 

“All year I’ve thought of myself as the second best 157-pounder in the MAC behind my own teammate,” Sparkman said. “I guess I’m just kind of proving it now.”

Sparkman also wrestled instead of Miller earlier in the season with a win against Missouri. 

“Casey gets beat up every single day by Ian Miller,” Andrassy said. “We just keep saying, ‘Listen, you’re going to better.’ I think he’s starting to understand what it takes.”

Sparkman said having Miller as a wrestling partner in practice helps for the real thing.  

“When I wrestle (Miller), sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing because he’s beating me so badly,” Sparkman said. “But then he’ll help me out while he’s beating me, so I’m learning at the same time. When I come out here, even though I don’t do as well in practices, I come out and everything just clicks.”

Kent State was able to get the win over Central Michigan and secure second place in the MAC with a 7-1 conference record.  

After Central Michigan and Edinboro faced off, it was Kent State’s turn to wrestle the Fighting Scots.

The first match had all the drama one could ask for going into it as fifth-year senior 149-pounder Mike DePalma took the mat to face his former school. 

“I was trying to hold (the emotions) back,” DePalma said. “It’s not a bad feeling, but it’s not a good one. It’s sad. I’ll never get to wrestle in this arena again in my life … You don’t want it to end. I love wrestling, I love college, and I love college wrestling.”

DePalma ended up winning 5-1 against Edinboro’s No. 10 Patricio Lugo. 

DePalma transferred to Kent State after spending two years at Edinboro.

“I loved Edinboro, and I love Kent (State),” DePalma said. “I wish that you could do both at the same time… Just reflecting, some of the guys from Edinboro, I’ll be best friends with them for the rest of my life I still talk to them on a day-to-day basis.”

Kent State and Edinboro were tied at nine when sophomore heavyweight Stephen Suglio took his turn after fellow heavyweight redshirt freshman Devin Nye got a win in overtime against Central Michigan. 

Suglio and Edinboro’s Billy Miller were in a scramble when Suglio got him on his back and pinned him in the first period.

“I would say that I’m pretty good in scramble positions,”Suglio said. “Once a guy’s on their back, I feel like I can just make it tighter and tighter. I’ve been there before in high school, so I’m really good at finishing once I get guys on their back.”

Edinboro was eventually able to tie it back up at 15 going into the last match of the night. 

Sophomore Anthony Tutolo was able to bounce back from his close loss against Central Michigan’s No. 10 Zach Horan to win 6-5 with riding time against Edinboro to give the Flashes the 18-15 win.

Kent State will participate in the NWCA Bowl Series Feb. 21 before the MAC Tournament starts March 5.

Dan Armelli is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]